Should I pay this bill?

We recently moved from our old apartment to a new apartment. Yesterday, we had a bill for $99 forwarded to us from Dish Installations. Here’s what happened.

The apartment management has been performing major renovations to the apartments, changing some of them into condos, adding a pool, adding backyards, doing a “face lift” etc etc. There was construction constantly, and it was a major inconvenience all around. The apartments, as part of the renovations, added DirecTV satellite dishes to the roofs, so I had DirecTV service, because I prefer it to Comcast.

Last June, somebody severed the cable from the satelite dish to the box (? I might have my terminology wrong) for my apartment. This happened in the basement–an area I do not have access to, and so I could not check the situation myself or fix it myself. So…the dish is not mine. The cables are not mine. The person responsible for literally cutting the cable was not me. All I was paying for was the service, which would have been at the apartment complex regardless of whether or not I ordered DirecTV.

Obviously, the local dish installers had to come out to the apartment and fix it. Apparently, the man’s labor and time was worth $99. Oh, also, we were without our television for nearly 2 weeks, and DirecTV billing refused to refund us for that time. So I was paying for a service I didn’t have because nobody at the apartment complex would take responsibility for this crap.

The man who fixed everything told me they would be billing the apartment manager, since it’s their dish, their cable, their problem, etc. I had no account or business with the Dish Installations folks because I did not have them install a dish for me.

And now, I have the bill. I contacted the current apartment manger (I never met her. She took over the same week we moved) and left a detailed message on her machine, but honestly, I doubt she’ll agree to pay it. And I don’t have any leverage. There’s no “or else.” I believe I am not responsible for this bill but ultimately it’s my word against the word of a woman who wasn’t even there and doesn’t know me.

Now, if the other apartment manger was still there, this would not be an issue. I’m thinking it’s an issue now because she’s moved on to other things.

I don’t believe that you should have to pay for that bill. Is the bill addressed to you by name?

My only concern would be that if you don’t pay the bill, and they do have you as the account holder, they would eventually take you to collections, and you risk screwing your credit because of it. If you pay Dish, and attempt to get reimbursed, yeah good luck with that, but at least you know your credit is intact. I’m sure that will make you warm and fuzzy every time you check your bank account though.

Not sure about your area, but many have rent dispute boards of some description.
Just invoking the name of one should scare any landlord. And if you “offer” to contact all the other tenants to see whether they’ve had the same or similar problem, then for sure they would be wise to buy you off. Stirring a hornets’ nest over that amount is not in their interest. They may turn up all sorts of complaints that have been dormant, and they know it.

Shouldn’t you have gone to the landlord first to fix the problem?

Wouldn’t that be the same as if your toilet was clogged, you never bothered to call the landlord, instead called a plumber on your own and now you don’t want to pay the bill?

I did go to the landlord. The events went like this:

  1. Call DirecTV Customer Service and ascertain that it wasn’t a problem with my service or the box in my apartment. Walk through the typical trouble-shooting steps and realize whatever is going on, it’s nothing I can fix. The customer service rep told me explicitly that the apartment manager would have to call and deal with it because it appeared to be a problem with the dish.

  2. Speak to apartment manager. Apartment manager contacts the Dish service guys.

  3. Dish Installation Guy comes to my apartment, again confirms there is not a problem with my box or my service, and then begins to search for the problem. Later he comes up to my apartment and informs me somebody cut the cable in the basement. He seemed very befuddled by this. He fixes it.

Sorry, I should have clarified this in the OP. The reason I was paying for service I couldn’t use for 2 weeks is because apartment manager dragged her feet on the issue.

In CA, I also had DirecTV, and whenever they came out on a service call that I would have to pay for, they would give me a bill to sign, confirming i understood I had to give them money. I signed no such bill in this instnce.

I just consulted my livejournal, to see if i wrote about the day it was fixed. Apparently, the cable had been cut in two different places. I don’t know if that matters, but hell, somebody was down in that basement being stupid.

Sounds to me like the bill should go to the apt. manager, and not to you.

I agree. It went there first. It was forwarded to me from there.

Return it.

The apartment complex approved the service call and it’s their deal with the Direct TV company. They also had the work being done that likely caused the cable cut. I think you’ll find they owe the money, and for restitution they need to go to the people that cut the cable, if they can prove who did it. Keep copies of everything until this is resolved. Contact somebody about this problem if the complex still refuses to pay the bill.

In that case I’d give the bill directly to your landlord. She’s the one who called and arranged service.

No, she’s not. It was the old landlord that made the arrangement.

On a related note, is it only cable/satellite providers that have to be such b*stards with problems and refunds? :mad:

Why don’t you call DirecTV people and see what they say? If I were the new landlord I would probaly ask you who the bill was addressed to, and then when you replied “to myself”, I would agree to pay but only if I received a proper bill from the company themselves.

A quick call to the cable company could fix this all. Or it might not, but they are just as worth a try as the landlord.

Yeah, she did. Perhaps not in her person as “Mary Jones”, but as “apartment landlord”, she did.

It does not matter that the individual who holds the job of “apartment landlord” is different - the apartment landlord is still responsible for the bill.

If it didn’t work this way, then all leases would become invalid the instant the manager changed.

Good point, but is that a legal reality? I’m really unsure of the law on this point.

Have you called up DirecTV and informed them that you’ve received this bill in error (and why that is the case)?

That would be the logical first step, I would think. Call them up, explain the situation and provide them the contact information for the current apartment manager (as well as the name of the manager who was in office at the time of the repair).

It’s entirely possible they’ll just thank you and leave you alone from now on.

If you feel like being polite, I’d also call the current apartment manager and explain to her that you’ve received that bill in error (and why you receiving it is an error) and referred DirecTV’s billing department back to her.

If I understand what the OP is saying, DirecTv sent the bill to the apartment manager, and the apartment manager then forwarded it to pepperlandgirl with a demand for payment. If this is the case, I would send it right back to the apartment manager with a note that, “this was forwarded to me by mistake. It is not my bill.”

If the bill actually has pepperlandgirl’s name on it, then she needs to contact DirecTv and have them bill the correct party.

Sorry I haven’t responded to this thread today! I’ve been very busy, and I didn’t get a chance to call anybody today.

The new apartment manager called me back yesterday and left a message. She sounded nice and like she wanted to work this issue out, not just tell me to stuff it. I’m going to call her back tomorrow morning and see what she says.

The bill has my name it. Beneath the amount due is a notation: “Billed apartment manager. Bill forwarded to tenant.” So what I think happened is they initially billed the apartment man, then they sent the bill back to the dish installation folks, then they reissued the bill in my name and sent it to me. Which would explain why the bill for 6/12/07 didn’t get here until Monday night.